Autism awareness run coming up in Candiac
April 2 is World Autism Day and, in some countries, the whole month is dedicated towards educating the public about this condition. But as parents of kids with autism know all too well, it not only takes awareness but also plenty of understanding, accommodation, and access to special programming to help an autistic child thrive. These kids often have trouble communicating with others and difficulty with social interaction, which makes it both difficult and very important to find social activities for them, explains Marie-Claude Coulombe, marketing director of Soutien Autism(e) Support (S.Au.S). “It’s hard for them to get involved in the community without being judged,” she said.
S.Au.S was founded in order to provide safe and fun leisure activities for children with autism and their families. The founder and members of the board are all mothers with children on the autism spectrum.
The Candiac-based group offers weekly activities such as swimming, music therapy, dance, gym, and free play times. Their activities, toys, and even pool temperature are adapted to suit children on the autism spectrum.
They also seek to include the child’s family members, with features such as pre-swimming and pre-play times in the gym and pool.
This is a main selling point for Laura Wong, the mother of four young girls under the age of 7 who appreciates that the whole family can join in activities with her 5-year-old autistic daughter Julia.
“It’s brought us together as a family, and it means that all the girls don’t have to do everything separately, which used to take forever,” she said. Before finding S.Au.S, she said Julia would have trouble participating in regular activities. “She has made her own friends, and isn’t just tagging along with her sisters anymore.”
S.Au.S also seeks to increase awareness with events such as their upcoming Autism Awareness Run taking place April 26 in Candiac. Families can participate in the five-kilometre run, the three- or five-kilometre walk or the one-kilometre kiddie run. For non-runners, the event also includes clowns, a kiddie zone with a bouncing castle, face painting, balloon sculpting, cupcakes and more. The event will be hosted by 92.5 The Beat’s Cat Spencer and renowned DJ MC Mario.
All proceeds from registration fees, which range from $30 to $35 (free for children under 14) will go towards S.Au.S programming. The group is also looking for people to donate, support a runner, or volunteer on the day of the run.
This all-ages event begins at 8:30 a.m. at Champlain Park in Candiac. Runners can register online. To volunteer or learn more about Soutien Austim(e) Support, visit s-au-s.org